Clemson Graduate School

Clemson Graduate School

Digital Production Arts

General Information

Degrees Offered


The recent advent of dramatic visual effects in film, television, and games has created an unprecedented demand for educational programs leading to careers in the field. To fill this need, the DPA program offers a unique blend of instruction from art, computer science, computer engineering, graphic communications, performing arts, philosophy, and psychology, together with newly designed courses targeted at production techniques specific to the animation effects industry.

The Master of Fine Arts in Digital Production Arts (DPA) at Clemson University is a professional degree program aimed at producing technically savvy, artistically talented graduates who are sought after by the growing electronic arts industry, particularly by those companies engaged in visual effects within the entertainment and commercial video, film, and gaming industries.

About the Program



Summer internships at production studios are highly desirable, and it is a goal of the program to assist all qualified students in securing such positions. Internships are competitive. Successfully competing requires a strong demo reel and a strong recommendation from someone whom the studio knows and trusts. Building a strong demo reel in the first year is a challenge. Those students interested in internships should select an advisor who can assist with this task as early as possible, but in no case later than the end of the first semester. Strong recommendations are not given lightly, in that they reflect on the strength of the program and affect future relationships with the studio in question. The studios want to see two pairs of antithetical characteristics in every person: they want an artist and a scientist, and they want a creative, original thinker and a cooperative, team player. Accordingly, all four factors are weighted equally in making recommendations.

For additional information, please contact the program coordinator (Dida Weeks)

Application Requirements


To be admitted, candidates need a complete Graduate School application, an acceptable GRE composite score, a portfolio, a portfolio critique, sample code, three letters of reference. Non-native English speakers also must submit an acceptable TOEFL score. The portfolio (which should be sent to the DPA program coordinator, unlike the other admissions materials) should include a portfolio of art and/or design work (with link to Web page), a portfolio critique (a 2-3 page self-assesment of portfolio pieces, with link to Web page) and sample code for placement within the program (any language, including scripting languages).

Applicants may apply on the Web at Applications should be received no later than five weeks prior to registration. Every required item in support of the application must be on file by that date.

Required Documents

For additional information, please contact the program coordinator (Dida Weeks)

Financial Aid

To see the proposed Graduate Tuition Rates for this academic year, click here.

The School or Program offers a number of graduate assistantships to students each year based on merit. These are offered in the form of stipends and the additional benefit of tuition remission. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester to qualify for a graduate assistantship and must work a minimum of 10 hours a week as a teaching or research assistant or perform other tasks assigned by the School or Program.

A small number of assistantships are available within the program. Assistantships are generally nine months, but they can be extended through summer. Assistantships are renewable for a second year, but renewal depends upon student progress. Other assistantships may be available in many departments throughout the University (for example, students with a strong computing background may find an assistantship in the computer studies department, while students with a strong art background may find an assistantship in the art department).

Course of Study

Program of Study

The degree requires credit hours devoted to the vidual arts studies, core courses, a master's thesis, and elective/foundation courses. It is expected that some beginning students may need postbaccalaureate work in the fundamentals of computing or visual arts (or both), so foundation courses are offered. A maximum of five hours of foundation courses may be counted toward the degree. The normal course of study requires two years.

Current Program


Clemson University has floating licenses for Maya 5.0 Unlimited (Irix/Linux), Maya Complete and Apple Shake as well as licenses for numerous other supporting software packages. The DPA Lab has fourteen MWave PCs (commodity boxes running RedHat Linux, each with 1GB of main memory and a 40GB local disk). There are also four Mac boxes running OSX (an Apple version of BSD UNIX). Maya Batch Renderer also runs on the University’s new 264-node realtime radiosity network. One of the latest additions to the DPA Lab is an Apple Xserver (dual processor G4) + Apple XServe RAID with 1.3 Tb of usable disk storage after RAID level-5 striping. This XServe is used to store student and faculty work for classes and projects — both large- and small-scale — and for instructional material. The DPA Lab also contains a Sony digital video recorder, a Proxima Desktop projector, a DVD player, three conventional VCRs and TVs, and a stereo AV receiver for output to different media.

Our Students

Of the program’s 30 students, 77 percent are men, 87 percent attend on a full-time basis, and 23 percent are international students.

Recent graduates have been hired by ILM, EAGames, Pixar, Rhythm & Hues, Tippet Studios, Blue Sky Studios, Square SUA and institutions of higher learning. Graduates have worked on films such as:

  • The Matrix: Revolutions and Reloaded
  • Star Wars: Episode III
  • The Hulk
  • Constantine
  • Robots
  • Minority Report
  • Van Helsing
  • The Incredibles
  • Garfield
  • Scooby Doo 2
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Final Fantasy
  • Ice Age
  • Hellboy

Program Coordinators

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